Love On Drugs – Fluke
This band Love On Drugs is actually Thomas Ponten & a group of musicians that weave together pop music & Americana effectively. His music has been compared favorably to The Jayhawks & Teenage Fanclub with generous swipes at John Lennon, Neil Young & David Bowie to really get the mix brewing. Thomas has said that he likes artists who are capable of being diversified & cover a wide range of musical styles.
Produced by Thomas (guitars/mandolin/bass/percussion/keys/lead vocals) the 10-track, 4th LP Fluke (Drops June 2–Paraply Records/Hemifran) & even includes a cover of “Heaven,” by the Talking Heads. It’s not as quirky as David Byrne but it’s rendered with a big production value & Thomas’ own absorbing vocal finesse & guitar emphasis.
Where else can you listen to a single artist sculpt music that covers country balladry, pop music & New Order stylings? It’s true that Mr. Ponten has eclectic tastes, but he pulls it off admirably in this showcase. The recording is pristine. It has on occasion a distinctive Roxy Music approach. The guitar solos on cuts like “Through the Dark,” are hot. Thomas sets up an enthusiastic musical performance in each of his songs & it begins with this track splendidly.
“Stranger Danger,” is an old-fashioned rock musical workout with dynamic lead guitar & Hammond organ finale. The songs have a very Americanized manner arrangement-wise. What’s most impressive is Thomas’ diversification. Despite switching lanes musically, he drives the melodies steadily, never deviates from what makes his music attractive & sings with youthful vigor.
Even when the tunes are typical there’s something bracing & splendid in their performance. The songs have an intensely country feel but what they don’t invest in is hokum, cowboy accents & cliches of the old West. Ponten is careful with his blends of country & lets the music speak for itself — his material is never foreign sounding. He’s mastered the genre. There’s nothing innovative but there’s a special ingredient: satisfaction. The tunes satisfy.
A shift away from the country idiom Thomas ignites a solid pop-rock fuse with “Never Walk Away,” which may have just a little too much 70s synth but it’s a confection – ear-candy, & it sounds good.
Highlights – “Through the Dark,” “Stranger Danger,” “Where the Water Flows,” “Never Walk Away,” “Give It To Me Darlin’” & “Heaven.”
Musicians – Martin Lillberg (drums), Robert Olsson (bass), Markus Larsson (keys), Berra Karlsson (pedal & lap steel guitar), Andreas Hall (tenor sax) & Jenny Lundin (vocals).
Color image courtesy of Love On Drugs’ Facebook. Song previews @ Soundcloud. The 38-minute CD @ https://www.paraplyrecords.se/ & https://www.hemifran.com/artist/Love%20On%20Drugs/